Sir Francis Bacon once coined the words, “Men must not turn into bees, and kill themselves in stinging others.” He was clearly speaking about the last week in U.S. Politics and race relations.
This whole brouhaha started with the NAACP’s resolution of July 13th condemning racist elements within the Tea Party. Then the Tea Party shot back, then Gov. Palin shot back, the talking heads weighed in, Mark Williams was suspended for his offensive mock letter from Ben Jealous (NAACP President) to President Lincoln. Fox News went ballistic; all of the networks covered the story without pause for days, featuring commentators and bloggers like myself who all had an opinion on this situation.
If that was not enough—a few days ago a video emerged from a man named Andrew Brietbert via Big Government.com that allegedly showed Ms. Sherrod at an NAACP awards event last year (when she was not at USDA) speaking about a white farmer that had come to her for help on a case for his farm. At first glance, the video is very damaging and indicting of Ms. Sherrod as she appears to admit on video that she discriminated against this man based on his race. However, what we all know NOW is that the tape was edited and that she was not given a full hearing with her superiors at USDA or at White House and was instead asked by Deputy USDA Chief Cheryl Cook to pull her car over and resign on her Blackberry for goodness sake.
WATCH SOPHIA NELSON DISCUSS THE NEXT STEP FOR OBAMA WITH REV. JESSE JACKSON
Okay so here we are—in full fledged race frenzy and once again the killer bees are swarming to kill the other side in the hopes they will die off politically, quickly. But let me be unequivocal here although Secretary Vilsack has now apologized and the White House via Press Secretary Gibbs has done so also—President Obama and Secretary Vilsack had no choice but to ask this woman to step down based on what we all saw in the first video clips.
Now you all know I am critical of the White House when I think it is wrong, and when the president is correct I support him just the same. On this one, he had no choice given the poison race talk environment that we now find ourselves in as we head into the 2010 mid-term elections. If he had even blinked on allowing this woman to stay in her job after what we all saw her initially say on the video—the public outrage from our fellow white citizens would have been out of control. And thugs like Breitbart would have declared victory in some twisted logic that he had somehow proven that blacks and the NAACP are racists too.
But the truth is this has to do with the Henry Louis Gates vs. Officer Crowley race debacle last year. The president stepped right in the middle of that hot mess and paid a heavy political price — one that I don’t think he has ever recovered from with independent and conservative democratic white voters. Have you noticed that the president’s silence has been deafening? You know why? Because he dare not wade into these turbulent waters of “race” again, lest he damage his presidency beyond repair.
How sad is that as a commentary on where America finds herself on matters of race in the hot summer of 2010? How sad is it that our president, our nation’s first black president, cannot speak out to the nation in a major address and ask us to calm it down because he is fearful of the backlash that would ensue.
In the final analysis my fellow Americans, we all need to pause for a moment and think, and perhaps, pray. I am seriously fearful for my president’s safety and for my countrymen who are up in arms one against another because of a resolution that was passed last week by the NAACP. To be honest, I am stunned and somewhat speechless (and you all know I am never speechless). We are headed in a dangerous direction with these charges and counter charges of “racism”. It needs to stop before someone gets hurt.
I am glad that Ms. Sherrod has received several apologies and her job back, but none of that will fix the hell she endured for the past few days. As she said to one reporter, “How will I explain to my granddaughter that the first black Georgia rural director was fired by the first black president?” The lesson for the White House and the rest of us is to STOP going to YouTube and the internet for our news because as you see the news is often incomplete or just plain wrong.
Sophia Nelson has appeared on MSNBC as a political analyst and columnist. She is the author of the forthcoming book Black. Female. Accomplished. Redefined.